Up in Flames: Impact of ‘flaring’ in Eagle Ford Shale zone – WOAI News 4 San Antonio – Top Stories

SAN ANTONIO – A front page spread in the San Antonio Express News reads “Up in Flames.” It’s a headline teasing a four-part investigation digging into the flaring of natural gas at drilling sites across the Eagle Ford Shale.Recently, the journalists behind the story sat down exclusively with News 4 Trouble Shooter to detail how this practice could be affecting energy resources and your health here in San Antonio.”When you drive around South Texas you see the flares everywhere,” says Jennifer Hiller describing the torch like flames that are now a burning part of the scenery. A year ago Hiller and investigative journalist John Tedesco set out to examine how these natural gas flares are impacting life in the Eagle Ford Shale and beyond.”When you talk to Texas officials, they say flaring is very low in Texas,” said Tedesco.  But that didn’t match up with what we saw, and so we started out just trying to answer that basic question, how much gas is being lost here?”Flaring is the process of burning off excess natural gas that’s produced when energy companies drill for oil.The amount of gas lost in the Eagle Ford Shale according to Tedesco and Hiller is staggering.”It’s about 39 billion cubic feet,” said Tedesco. “Which could meet the needs of every San Antonio household that uses natural gas for an entire year.”Why aren’t the oil companies using that and marketing it? Tedesco says it’s a matter of economics.”The price,” he said.  “You know right now the price of oil is up and the price of gas is down.” And as Hiller explained, building the pipelines needed to get the gas to market is a process far slower than the on-going boom in oil drilling.”Everything in the Eagle Ford is happening so quickly, it’s been such a profitable field that it’s ramped up faster than anybody could have predicted and this is just a side effect.”In a four part investigation now that will begin making headlines in Sunday’s San Antonio Express News, Tedesco and Hiller also uncover data showing 15-thousand tons of pollutants pumped into the air in a single year.Meanwhile state officials struggle to develop a framework to regulate the practice.”The big question mark is how long is that going to take and is it actually going to happen,” said Tedesco.While state officials say flaring is safely regulated, Tedesco and Hiller found seven major flaring sites burning natural gas for months without the necessary permits.  Regulators say they are now pursuing sanctions against several of those companies due to Tedesco and Hiller’s reporting.

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